Let’s go through the drama checklist:
- Birth Secret?–Nope!
- Super Evil Mother In Law?–Nope!
- Evil Step-Mother?–Absolutely NOT!
- Love Triangle?–NOOOOOOOO!
- Dysfunctional Family?–Nope!
- Devoid of Romance?–Nope!
- Piggyback Scene?–Several
- Bromance?–BIG TIME!
What would this year be like if I DIDN’T talk about the first time that I ever, not only watched raw but also streamed a drama from Korean Television? That’s right, Ugly Alert is the first drama of that distinction. Anyone who follows me on twitter knows that I have actively talked about this drama for the last 6 months! I had to think long and hard about what to write; not so much because I didn’t have anything to say but more because I have SO MUCH to say. I’ll try to limit my spoilers, just in case you ever want to watch it but I will give you enough, just to peak your interest….maybe.
This drama was brought to us from the writer, Jung Ji-Woo, who brought some of my other drama favorites like Gloria, Stars Falling From the Sky, and Family’s Honor. It was also directed by Shin Yoon-Sub who also brought us Rooftop Prince last year. Even though I wasn’t super enamored with Rooftop Prince, the one thing I liked about it was the direction given to the actors and the filming.
Let’s talk about what worked well in this drama. First, great family dynamics! The story of the Gong Family starts off kind of shaky as any new blended family does. The difference is the fact that the father, Gong Sang Man (played by Ahn Nae Sang) is an ex-con but he happens to be the mother’s (played wonderfully by Shin Ae Ra) first love. So, ignoring the objections of her children, they get married. I think as drama watchers, we are so used to the “evil” step mother or father, that these parents are NOT is a total shock to the viewer! Shin Ae Ra is an angel and it is no wonder that the young Gong Joon Su (played by Kang Yi Suk) instantly falls in love with her.
Even though the younger, step siblings, Jin Ju and Hyuk Suk (played by Jung Da Bin and Nam Da-Reum) do not feel the same and show their disinterest and annoyance with both Joon Su and Sang Man, there are moments in which you see that had they had more time together, the family relationship would have definitely flourish. However, as the name of the drama which started out as “Bravo My Life”, “Ugly Warning” implied, something bad was bound to happen; and it did.
An unfortunate incident occurs whereby Joon Su goes to prison for 10 years. What is amazing about his character is his selflessness. Why? Because of an accident which his younger brother caused, he willing goes to jail. I thought at that moment whether I could be as selfless as him with my younger sibling, no Saint Belinda, I am not. The rest of the story shows the building of a family dynamics that you probably won’t see again in a drama. Sure, the negative attitude of the siblings, especially Jin Ju will grate your nerve at first, but as the story progresses and their relationship builds, you finally see the results of the love and care that their parents gave them in their short life together; the catalyst being Joon Su himself.
Second, wonderful romance relationships portrayed. Having a big aversion to the proverbial “Love triangle”, I was SO happy to watch a drama that was totally devoid of the drama cliche. Not only were the romances separate but I felt for once that the chemistry between the couples was actually pretty good.
Joon Su (played by Im Ju Hwan) and Do Hee (played by Kang So Ra) had chemistry that was “off the charts”! At times, I actually felt that I was impeding on their privacy because their relationship was so thoroughly portrayed.
The second romance between Shin Joo Young (played by Shin So Yool) and Gong Hyuk Suk (played by Choi Tae Joon) was absolutely adorable. These two were such polar opposites of each other. I felt that Hyuk Suk was definitely and effectively stalked by Joo Young!
The last sibling romance between Gong Jin Ju (played by Kang Byul) and Kang Cheol Soo (played by Hyun Woo) was probably the least interesting. But that is because their relationship was pretty much settled in the first 1/2 of the drama, culminating into the first marriage.
Third, “a cinematographer’s dream” when it came to filming and locations. Just look at the choice of scenes and backgrounds. I was in awe at times at the director’s choices. The use of lighting, rain, scenery, skyline, mountain scenes, woods, you name it was very, very effective. I don’t think I’ve watched a drama that made me want to travel and explore South Korea more than this one. Feast your eyes on some of these scenes:
I can do this all day! There were so many wonderful places featured throughout the drama. Simply gorgeous parks, hiking areas and downtown skylines; all effectively featured.
Fourth, “bromance“. I have seen a lot of bromance relationships in dramas but I have to say this was the first sibling one where they weren’t fighting; didn’t hate each other; respected each other; asked each other opinions on issues. Wait, that is starting to sound like a real family!! Joon Su and Hyuk Suk were portrayed as real brothers. After awhile, their relationship was so close, it was hard to believe that they weren’t real brothers. As a matter of fact, it was even hard for some of the characters to believe because of the closeness. Hyuk Suk respected his hyung and Joon Su, was always the one wanting to sacrifice, almost gave up on Do Hee for his brother. I’m still mentally counting in my head how many times I’ve seen brothers this close……….once………still counting….
Fifth, “Interesting supporting characters“. This drama has the distinction of introducing us to some colorful (and memorable) characters. Man Do (played by Kim Ha Kyoon) loved Joon Su unconditionally. He practically raised him. His relationship with Joon Su was definitely that of father and son.
My fashion goddess, In Joo (played by Maya). I LOVED this woman! She was tough, fierce and totally in control! She handled everyone in her own special way. Every time she was on the screen, it was exciting and sometimes very, very funny! Her friendship with Man Do was so funny and unusual but they actually made it work on the screen. This woman wore so many clothes that I would love to own! Okay, everything except for those freaking weird epaulet jackets! Who wears animal figurines as epaulets?!!
Best Harabeoji EVER in a drama! The patriarch of the Na family, Na Sang Jin (played by Lee Soon Jae), had to be my favorite depiction of a grandfather ever! He loved his family dearly but also took control of them with a firm hand. He was the one who first fell for the Gong Family. I think he was grandson-in-law shopping from the very beginning of the drama; no one wanted to see him sick, happy, or angry. That included us drama watchers!
And last but not least, how could I not mention our resident evil bad guy, Lawyer Lee (played superbly by Kim Young Hoon) aka Sleazy Lee aka Delusional Lee aka Grandiose Religious Delusion (GRD for short) aka Satan’s Spawn. His nicknames morphed with his character throughout the drama. We watched as he went from crushing on Do Hee, total obsession, and finally dangerous obsession and his object of revenge. Sure, I’ve seen my fill of characters thinking that they were God’s gift but this man took it one step too far. When his obsession turned abusive, that was when us viewers came up with our colorful and quite clever nicknames! Definitely a good sign of great acting when just his picture coming on the screen would elicit such rage in you.
His final scene could have been played with Handel’s Messiah in the background and I would have been very happy! Am I right?
Finally, “Best Wedding and Honeymoon” depicted in a drama I’ve seen. I have seen a lot of couples at the end of a long drama but not too often that we get the privilege to actually see the wedding as well as the day after the wedding night. The wedding was beautiful! The time they spent in perfecting the perfect wedding pictures, showing us the wedding night and the day after but also perfect and too cute scenes from the newlyweds. I have to applaud the writer and director for totally satisfying our curiosity. Unfortunately, the Hyuk Suk/Joo Young shippers were definitely disappointed as their wedding wasn’t shown. I guess we can blame Hyuk Suk and his 2-3 years to get married time period!
And culminates to one of the best endings I’ve seen in awhile. Overall, I never thought that I would ever watch a long, daily drama from day to day and be totally satisfied. Totally. I felt no stone was left unturned and enough time was given to peek into their future lives together. As of now, I’m developing my A-list of Korean writers; writers that I will look forward to in the future and ones that I’ve yet to be disappointed with; Jung Jin Woo is definitely on the top of that list! Near perfect writer but definitely perfect casting.
Ugly Alert is available and fully subbed on DarkSmurfSub. You do have to register to be able to see the links for Online streaming. In addition, other sites like EpDrama are working on providing the episodes. Of course , the raw episodes are available on just about any torrent site.